top of page

How do product managers prioritize features or tasks?

Product managers prioritize features or tasks by following a structured approach. Before prioritizing, three essential elements need to be in place:

  1. Definition of Success/Strategy: A clear understanding of the product's goals, vision, and overall strategy is crucial. This definition acts as a compass, guiding decisions on which features or tasks to prioritize, ensuring alignment with the product's long-term objectives.

  2. Groups or "Buckets" of Requirements: Requirements should be categorized into distinct groups or "buckets" of the same type. These might include new features, technical debt, market requirements, or internal improvements. Grouping helps streamline the prioritization process, making it easier to compare and contrast features or tasks within the same category.

  3. Rough Estimates: Each feature or task should have a rough estimate regarding the resources required for its implementation. This includes time, cost, and potential risks. Estimates allow for an informed balancing act between immediate needs and longer-term benefits.

Once these prerequisites are in place, the actual prioritization can begin:

  • Business Value: Assessing the potential impact of each feature or task on the product's success, including its alignment with the defined strategy, contribution to revenue, and customer satisfaction.

  • Technical Feasibility: Evaluating the complexity, risks, and dependencies involved in implementing each feature or task, and its impact on the overall product.

  • Stakeholder Input: Gathering feedback from key stakeholders, including customers, marketing, sales, and engineering teams, to ensure the prioritization aligns with their needs and perspectives.

  • Balancing Short-Term and Long-Term Goals: Striking a balance between immediate priorities, such as bug fixes or quick wins, and longer-term investments, like new features or infrastructure improvements.

This approach helps product managers ensure that their priorities align with the product's strategy, effectively manage resources, and meet both internal and external needs​​​​.

Here are five prioritization techniques and when they are most appropriate:

  1. MoSCoW Method: This technique categorizes requirements into four groups: Must-Have, Should-Have, Could-Have, and Won't-Have. It's especially useful when managing a backlog or release planning. The MoSCoW method helps balance immediate needs (Must-Have) with less critical features, making it ideal for agile teams focusing on incremental development.

  2. Value vs. Effort Matrix: This method plots features on a two-dimensional graph, with one axis representing the feature's business value (impact) and the other its implementation effort. It's suitable for comparing and selecting features for short-term and long-term planning, allowing teams to prioritize low-effort, high-value items for immediate impact, while considering high-effort, high-value features for longer-term planning.

  3. Kano Model: The Kano model classifies features into five categories: Basic, Performance, Excitement, Indifferent, and Reverse. This technique is effective for assessing how features impact customer satisfaction. Basic features must be present, while Performance and Excitement features can distinguish the product from competitors, guiding teams in prioritizing customer-centric development.

  4. RICE Scoring: RICE stands for Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort. This scoring model helps prioritize features by assigning numerical values to each category and calculating a final score. It's particularly useful for data-driven decision-making, allowing product managers to objectively assess a feature's potential reach, impact, confidence in success, and required effort.

  5. Weighted Scoring: This technique assigns weights to various criteria, such as business value, cost, risk, and customer satisfaction. Each feature is then scored across these criteria, with the weighted scores summed to give a final prioritization score. Weighted scoring is effective when managing complex products or portfolios, allowing teams to tailor the prioritization process to reflect their unique goals and strategy​​.

Have a question you'd like us to address? Contact us!

bottom of page